The best strategy for dealing with a situation (where the boss is suspected for taking credit for her subordinate’s ideas) depends on a lot of factors. The first thing I would need to ask myself is, “What are my priorities?” or in other words, “What are the things I value most in my job?” I should have a clear view of my interests, goals, and what I would gain if I take any action in this particular situation. It is also important that I have great control over my emotions and that I do not lose objectivity throughout this ordeal.
If coming up with ideas is a fundamental facet of my work (and if advancement within the company is directly tied to the ideas that I come up with), I would make it a point that those ideas are properly acknowledged.
One key to effectively dealing with this situation is to not jump into conclusions. Staging a confrontation is not the best option for me. It is unlikely that my boss will admit to any wrongdoing on her part, and accusing her of stealing my work will only escalate the problem (and may lead her to retaliate against me). If she has
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This situation is compounded by the fact that my boss did the deed behind my back (if she indeed stole my ideas). Supposing that she’s guilty, this means that I have no way of knowing what other things she might have “stolen” from me, or if she is likely to do so again in the future. After all, I wouldn’t have caught wind of her possible transgression if I didn’t overhear the vice president talking about the same ideas I had on my report.
Since my boss doesn’t know that I am aware that she may have forwarded my report to the vice president, I can take this fact to my advantage by planning a covert strategy. I can send my report to the vice president himself with a note asking him for feedback about my ideas. I would mention in the note that I have forwarded the same report to my boss ‘x’ days ago, and since I haven’t received any feedback from my boss, I am asking his opinion instead. I would also make it a point to project that my main reason for sending him the report is my concern for the company’s well-being, and I would avoid saying anything that would put my boss in a bad light.
The vice president will hopefully put two and two together—if my boss indeed presented my report to him and claimed it as her own, the vice president will know that she is dishonest and unethical. Hopefully my boss will suffer the consequences of her actions. On the other hand, if my boss gave me the proper credit, the vice president may see it as a genuine attempt to make things better for the company and see my initiative as a reflection of my good character. Whether or not the vice president decides to confront my boss about it, I will be blameless. Either way, by acting as the innocent and unsuspecting party, I can get to accomplish my goal—that is, to have my efforts recognized while maintaining my bearing and being “innocence”.
Whatever happens next (or whether or not the vice president takes any action), I would make sure that I’m doing the necessary steps so that my boss would not have the opportunity to steal ideas from me in the future. I will document all information, ideas, or reports that I pass on to my boss. These steps can include sending carbon copies of the reports I send her to my own e-mail or to my colleagues’ e-mails so that my boss would be discouraged from stealing ideas.
If my boss is simply the type who will pass off others’ ideas as her own and this behavior affects my future prospects for advancement within the company, I may have to investigate alternatives to working under my current boss—I will evaluate my prospects for getting transferred under a new boss, or even for getting better opportunities outside my present company.